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BlackBerry Z10 smartphone: Bloggers, tech sites praise hardware, mixed on software

John Cox | Feb. 4, 2013
Early testers don't see Android, iPhone users making leap to BlackBerry 10 in big numbers.

He found the gesture-oriented UI a snap. "Gesture controls took me virtually no time to get used to, and in fact, I found that going back to Android and iOS devices after extended use, I was trying to use the same gestures to do things like unlock devices," he writes. "The so-called 'Peek,' which lets you swipe and hold to view notifications and then quickly dismiss them, was likewise something that quickly became second nature."

He found a number of annoyances in the UI navigation, such as "swiping up to return from the notification hub [BlackBerry Hub] brings you to the active apps screen [with its four, thumbnailed Active Frames], meaning you always have to swipe left one more time to get to apps [meaning the traditional grid arrangement of downloaded apps]. This is made somewhat better by the fact that you can tap a line of dots [actually tiny icons] at the bottom to access specific pages of apps directly, as well as Hub and your active apps screen, something which you can't do on stock Android or iOS."

BlackBerry Hub is "definitely useful, but is it more useful than Notification Center or Android's pull down notification area? That's debatable," Etherington writes. "It's more of an actual destination within your phone, something you can live in and work from, but that [characteristic] can actually be counter-intuitive at times, like when you're looking at a Twitter mention, and the back button takes you to Hub, not the Twitter home stream. But it also comes in handy, like when it provides contextual info on meetings, including information on attendees."

Lack of apps, and in some cases lack of quality, creates an "app gap [that] can't be denied by even the most steadfast BlackBerry supporter," he writes. He was not happy with battery life. "In real-world use, I found it hard to get through a standard day without the Z10 running dry," he writes. "[T]here's no way to monitor battery performance beyond a basic visual icon, and no detailed battery info in system settings." The phone heats up to a point significantly warmer than his iPhone 5 or Nexus 4.

An exhaustive review at the BlackBerry fan site CrackBerry, by Kevin Michaluk, is enthusiastic about almost everything. "Thinner and lighter [in smartphone design] doesn't always translate into better -- at the end of the day it's about how it feels and I think BlackBerry's team nailed both the look and feel of the Z10," Michaluk writes.

BB10 and its UI is a "fresh" experience, he writes. "I wouldn't call the BlackBerry 10 UI complicated, but there's definitely more of a learning curve associated with picking up the BlackBerry Z10 phone compared to the iPhone, for example, but it's well worth learning. After a day or two on the BlackBerry Z10, if you go back and try and pick up an older BlackBerry, an iPhone, or anything else for that matter, the experience just seems antiquated."


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